Stupid Good Summer School Week 6: Easy Marinara Sauce

Stop. Put down the jar. It is not your friend. That jar of pasta sauce right there in your hand? It’s filled with sodium and preservatives and junk. Well, the real reason you should put the jar down is because you can totally make a better sauce with less than $3 and 30 minutes. Yes, I understand that opening a jar takes 3 seconds but hear me out. This sauce freezes really well, but also you can impress guests with homemade sauce. Pasta sauce isn’t super impressive, but if you make your own, you’re a culinary hero. Make them bring wine because it’s gonna be a hell of a spaghetti dinner!


Preparing a tomato (watch Tuesday’s video here)


Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs basil, chopped
  1. In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high.
  2. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes.
  3. Add whole can of tomatoes to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, gently crushing the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about the giant chunks, they will break down during the cooking process. Add oregano and salt.
  4. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 25 minutes.
  5. You can continue to break down the tomatoes with a spoon, but I am a fan of a chunky sauce. You can also put the sauce in the blender for a few minutes, depending on how smooth you like it. Enjoy over fresh, hot pasta!

Stay tuned for next week’s Stupid Good Summer School!


School may be out for the summer, but it’s time to get your kitchen game onto the honor roll! ‘Stupid Good Summer School’ features a technique every Tuesday, and a recipe using that technique every Thursday. 


Stupid Good Summer School: Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Now that you can dice an onion like a pro (watch Tuesday’s video here), it’s time to put your skills to the test with a warm weeknight classic: Stuffed Shells. It’s been raining in South Florida all week, and a plate of comforting pasta was just what I needed to inspire this week’s Stupid Good Summer School recipe. The onions come into play here by boosting the flavor of the wilted spinach, balancing the heavy ricotta and sausage filling. This recipe definitely makes leftovers, so invite some friends over or be prepared to bring this to lunch all week.


Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Shells

  • 1/2 pound boxed jumbo shells
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella or italian blend cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shells and stir, cooking until al dente (the noodles should still have a slight bite, the oven will finish the noodles). After draining the pasta water, run cool water over the noodles so that you can handle them.
  2. In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add the sausage. If you bought sausage in the casing, remove the meat or you can buy straight up sausage meat to avoid this step. Break up the sausage with your spoon to get small pieces and remove from the pan when it is fully cooked.
  3. While the sausage is cooking, mix together the cheeses, salt, and parsley in a small bowl.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add diced onions. Cook until you have sweat the onions, or drawn enough moisture out of them to take out their sharp bite. Add the garlic, stir, and then add spinach. Remove from the pan once your spinach is wilted.
  5. Time to arrange your pasta! In a 9×9″ dish, pour the spaghetti sauce and spread along the bottom. Take one shell and fill with a small spoonful of cheese mixture and some sausage, keeping in mind that you have a few shells to spread it amongst. Put the shell into the sauce and repeat with remaining shells.
  6. Take your spinach and nestle it evenly throughout where the shells leave room. Top with desired amount of grated cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Enjoy with a small salad or garlic bread!

Stay tuned for next week’s Stupid Good Summer School:
How to Properly Cook Bacon


Stupid-good-summer-schoolSchool may be out for the summer, but it’s time to get your kitchen game onto the honor roll! ‘Stupid Good Summer School’ features a technique every Tuesday, and a recipe using that technique every Thursday.